2019 Honored Patient: Andre
The core story that Cheryl tells about her son Andre from July 6, 2017 is one that is all too familiar in the world of pediatric cancer.
“I took Andre to the doctor because he’d had periodic nosebleeds and small red spots that appeared and spread across this body after returning from a family trip to hike Machu Picchu in Peru. Doctors suspected Dengue Fever or Zika virus but then blood tests revealed something very different and unexpected -- leukemia.”
Andre was immediately hospitalized in the ICU at Children’s Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis. Further tests revealed T-cell ALL, one of the most common forms of pediatric leukemia.
Andre’s diagnosis came only 10 months after his family moved to St. Paul from the Chicago area. “We were so lucky to be back in our home state where family and friends could help us and be near Children’s Hospital where Andre’s type of cancer could be treated,” continued Cheryl.
“Cassondra Howard is our primary nurse and always took time to draw Andre out, to ensure he was comfortable, to connect and make him laugh. We’re so very lucky to have her through this journey! Dr. Rawas, his oncologist, is gentle, kind and truly listens to our concerns. We are fortunate that our hospital is progressive, offering new treatment therapies like physical therapy as part of Andre’s treatment plan to ensure that Andre can be as normal as possible.”
Lending support to Andre (16) along with Cheryl are his dad, Mel, and siblings Alina and Rafa. Andre completed his 10 months of intense chemo in May 2018. He is almost 2 years in to his 3.5-year treatment plan.
Andre is a ‘chill’ kid. He’s quiet, humble and doesn’t complain. Andre likes to hang out with friends and loves his two dogs, Winnie and Oliver.
Andre's family is consistent with other pediatric oncology families in advice for others impacted by cancer. “Lean on others for help. Whether you have family to assist or not, there are plenty of kind, wonderful people who care about you and your family. Cancer has definitely changed us but we try not to let it rule our lives.”
Andre comes from a tennis family. In fact, “everyone” plays. Andre missed most of his freshman year of high school and tennis, too.
“He played varsity tennis this year as a junior while still on chemo and undergoing treatment. He’s an amazing kid and we’re proud of him.” Andre was named after tennis legend Andre Agassi. Like Agassi, he’s a fighter!”
“Corporate relocations kept us moving around the world but we always returned to Life Time Fitness in White Bear Lake to play tennis and attend the PTATC whenever we could. Little did we know that we would rely on the hospital and doctors for our own child’s survival.”
“We’re thankful for Pine Tree Apple Orchard and Life Time for sponsoring this event. With cancer on the rise, it’s critical that we keep researching how to prevent and treat childhood cancers.”